Getting buy in for a new technology can be tough. In this 3 part series, Pam Baker outlines the top three most common threats to getting buy-in and how to resolve them. This is Part 3 of the series, which includes Parts 1 & 2.
For years now, CIOs have polished their presentations, made their arguments for new tech expenditures, and cast their lot to the whims of others in the C-suite.
Almost to a person, CIOs know the drill: make a business case, present hard numbers, and spell out ROI complete with expected pay dates.
But even when they follow the rules, pitch perfectly, align the numbers, and plead persuasively, someone at the C-level may still balk or bray or shrug.
Worse yet, they may applaud the team but then leave the field before the ball is even in play – a sure way to kill any project.
So what’s an overworked CIO to do?
The tech is needed clearly, or at least the need is clear to the IT department and to a business unit or two. The homework has been done, the tests have been passed, and even the business unit head has signed off.
Yet it all comes to naught without the blessings from the very top.
Often top level management’s hesitation, disapproval, or lack of support after the purchase – in other words their lack of buy-in — has nothing to do with the technology or your presentation per se.
It can just as easily be tied to issues you didn’t realize were even a factor in the decision.
To help you see the Issues of No, here are a few of the most common invisible threats to your otherwise well-planned tech purchase strategy:
1) It’s Not the Economy, It’s the Shareholders.
The economy is the number one reason that top management gives for everything from cutting jobs to slashing budgets and saying no to your budget requests.
Certainly a lagging economy is an issue but only to a point and to a very small point at that.
So, while it is true the economy is staggering around like a drunk on a binge, corporations, generally speaking, look more like Rich Uncle Pennybags with tons of cash on hand.
In other words, the money for your tech purchase is almost certainly available.
So, what’s the problem you ask?
Corporations have to show ever higher returns to stockholders.
That being the case…
Your tech purchase needs to deliver more value than having the equivalent of cash on hand.
Calculate ROI on your planned tech purchase with an eye to what the expenditure can mean to shareholders too, especially over time.
That means arguments about easing the workload, speeding the work, increasing customer service, and reducing errors will likely fall on deaf ears.
But arguments based on cutting payroll, cutting costs, shortening the supply chain, speeding receipts, flipping assets, raising company value, and/or expanding profit margins will meet with a standing ovation.
2) It’s Not the Price, It’s the Value.
Price is but a detail, one factor among many in the final calculation.
That is assuming of course that you know the price is within the bounds of what competing vendors are asking.
Only a fool or a desperate man would overpay for anything.
But otherwise, price is not the issue. Only value counts. And value is not based on what the technology is worth if you resold it or traded it in.
We all know that any given technology will be pretty much worthless in a relatively short period of time. Nor is value found in easing a worker’s task or making a customer happy.
Surprisingly, sometimes the value isn’t even weighed by top- or bottom-line impact.
Finding the Value
Sometimes it’s based in less obvious factors such as what impact it will have on the competition, or a competitive edge that it will raise or hone, or a new profit center it may build, especially if it can replace one that is likely to diminish or disappear over time.
It can also be determined by processes it eliminates, or changes outside the company that can be leveraged from within.
So, what do you do?
This means you need to find the true values that the new tech represents to your corporation and point them out in your presentation.
For example, a green datacenter that also enables the harnessing and reselling of extra energy has arguably more value to a corporation than an ordinary energy-efficient datacenter does.
The value of a combined ECM/BPM system is similarly enhanced if it is successfully argued…
|that it lends a distinct completive edge;
is a cheap means of netting profits from the sale of select content to big data users;
a way to streamline or eliminate processes, waste and profit draining redundancies;
and/or provides a fierce battlement to protect the company on compliance and liability fronts
– all of which that particular combo play can conceivably perform.
3) It’s Not Just Business, It’s Personal
The facts and numbers are all there, the vote a simple up or down.
But no, the C-level suite is full of grays and not just in the varying shades of their suits.
Every C-level executive considering your proposal has a personal agenda.
That is, an agenda derived from what he or she personally needs to accomplish in order to keep their job, get a bonus, get promoted, or move to a better position at another company.
So, what do you do?
Your job is to find out what that agenda is before you make a formal presentation to the group.
Meet with the CFO, find out what battles she is fighting, what keeps her up at night, and what she needs to accomplish.
Find out what the CEO, the CMO, the Chief Investment Officer, and whatever other Chiefs that may have a say on whether your project is a go or not, are secretly packing.
Then build your presentation to appeal to each of their personal agendas.
Presto – you now have buy-in.
— Pam Baker (@bakercom1) July 11, 2012